Turkey: Pro-Kurdish party opposes new security bill

ISTANBUL - The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or HDP, has voiced its opposition Wednesday against a new security bill backed by the Turkish government.

The bill, which gives police enhanced powers, was approved by the Turkish parliament’s internal affairs commission on Jan. 22, and is expected to be discussed by lawmakers next week.  

"We will use every opportunity under the bylaws to block the parliament in order to prevent voting on the new security package," HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas told journalists in Istanbul. 

"It is a package of insecurity, not security," he said, adding the bill would create “serious problems” in Turkish society.  

However, Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said Wednesday that there was great public support for the draft security law.

"Polls show that 80% of the people approve the new bill," Ala said.  

The proposed legislation outlaws possession of fireworks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots during protests. Protesters who cover their faces in demonstrations that take a pro-terrorism tone can now face imprisonment for up to five years.

The bill also permits police to act preemptively in carrying out raids based on intelligence of possible criminal activity.

Demirtas also said that if his party came to power in June’s general elections, he would reduce the election threshold to zero. 

Under the current system, political parties in Turkey must have at least 10 percent of votes nationwide to gain parliamentary representation -- the highest such threshold in Europe.

"Even a party which has just 1 percent of the votes also has the right to be represented in the parliament," Demirtas said.

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